KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – A heartfelt discussion with her husband and the decision to submit an application landed an Army spouse, and mother of three, the general manager’s position for the newest location of a major chain restaurant.
Kendra Jackson, Army spouse of 11 years, has been very busy since November when she was hired as the GM for Wahlburgers restaurant in the food court of the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center on Ramstein Air Base.
“I wasn’t actually going to apply, because I have three kids at home,” said Jackson, who attended business school for a time and graduated from culinary school. “But, my husband told me I might as well and the regional manager told me he knew I was the one as soon as he shook my hand and heard me talk.”
She originally applied to be a shift manager, so she said she was very surprised when she was offered the general manager position.
Jackson is convinced classes she took through U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Army Community Service helped her get the position.
“I’ve actually been there a few times since we arrived in Germany,” she said. “I’ve updated my resume and I started using ACS when we were still in the States. It was really helpful, actually. ACS teaches you about key words and buzzwords for online application sites, which is really important because USAJobs is all online.”
According to garrison ACS staffer Tim Siebeneck, the services offered to Army spouses range from career and tech resources to help getting referrals and understanding job websites and how to attend career fairs.
“Just because you live in Germany now, doesn’t mean the government is your only choice of employment,” Siebeneck said. “It’s a complex system here. The government service process is complex and it takes a long time to navigate and the process itself, from application to hiring, is long. ACS can help by finding other employment on the economy, with a contractor or maybe help setting up a home-based business. There are a lot of jobs out there.”
He added ACS holds job fairs at various times during the year and offers classes on job interviews, resume writing, and navigating those various online job sites like USAJobs, AAFES.com, Indeed.com and others, including computer stations to do those searches.
Jackson said she knows it’s tough for a military spouse to find a job, especially in an overseas locale. Kaiserslautern is her family’s fifth home in 11 years. But, she said, the jobs are out there and she highly recommends the first stop in a job search in the KMC be ACS.
“I would start with ACS. I know spouses who don’t even have a resume,” Jackson said. “ACS helps step-by-step, building you up, putting things in the right order and giving you tips on how to include those key words to get yourself noticed. Honestly, I know it’s hard but I would tell any spouse to just go for it.”
As for Jackson’s current job, her new boss said he couldn’t be happier.
“Kendra has been wonderful,” said Paul Wahlberg, owner/operator of Wahlburgers, along with his famous brothers Mark and Donnie. “She hit the ground running and has helped us navigate a lot of military and host nation things that we don’t normally deal with, and didn’t even think about, when we open a new store in the states. We wouldn’t be open this soon if it wasn’t for her. She’s a pleasure to be around and we’re lucky to have her.”
As a fun aside, Jackson said she had a poster of singer/actor Donnie Wahlberg on her wall as a teenager, but has yet to meet him.
She laughed, “Donnie was my schoolgirl crush! Now I’m working for him!”